A practical and refreshing seven-step workbook of first steps when marketing feels gross and awkward
(you can do all 29 pages in one lazy, rainy afternoon and you’ll use it for the rest of the life of your business)
How to start?
This is the question I am asked the most, in different forms, in every workshop I ever do. What’s the first step? Where do I begin? Where should I start?
It is the question this workbook will attempt to help you answer about your marketing.
This workbook is for you if you’re just beginning your business.
It’s also for you if you’ve already started and yet it feels line something foundational, some cornerstone or your marketing world, is missing.
I’ve led dozens of marketing workshops over the years all around North America and the UK and I can tell you that most people feel utterly lost in their marketing. They feel stuck in their marketing and they don’t know why.
When they first begin, they know their marketing doesn’t feel good but that’s about it.
Then they hear about some business or marketing coach and get on their email list. It’s exciting! New ideas! They get exposed to other marketing coaches through them and attend a few tele-summits. And, in short order, they are utterly overwhelmed. There are so many ideas and they aren’t sure which ones to choose. Some of them makes sense but feel bad. And some feel good but don’t seem that effective.
Maybe at this point they have hired a marketing coach and that marketing coach is asking them to do things that feel off somehow. They’re resistant but they have no touchstone against which to rub this idea to test for its quality as jewellers and metalsmiths of old would have done, carefully taking the ring someone claimed to be gold and running it along the finely grained surface of their dark stone, perhaps slate, fieldstone or lydite to see what kind of mark it made. From that mark, and other tests, the purity of the gold could be assessed as soft metals would leave a visible race.
This is a tiny workbook about a little idea that could make a big difference in every piece of marketing you ever do from here on. This tiny workbook can give you a touchstone you can use every single day into the future.
Here’s the idea: what if you made the heart of your marketing strategy about how your marketing feels?
What if your filter for whether or not you should take a certain approach wasn’t only, “How likely is this to strategically achieve the outcome I want?” (an obvious and important goal but a dry one too) but also, “Does this feel good?”
No piece of marketing will genuinely feel good to you if you don’t think it’s going to bring you clients.
What if you could use how a piece of marketing feels as an intuitive approach to whether or not to do it?
I’m not suggesting that you don’t also educate yourself and learn more of the tactical and strategic side of your marketing. I would urge you to do so in your strongest terms. What I am suggesting is that it’s powerful to create or find a touchstone for yourself that you can use to quickly do a gut check on whether that particular tool or approach is appropriate for you.
To take it deeper. It’s not just, “Does this feel good?” It’s, “Does this marketing feel the particular way I want it to feel?”
What if your marketing was guided by the vibe you want to create around yourself and your business?
What if your marketing was vibe driven?
This is so important.
Think about businesses like Virgin, Apple, Starbucks, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Whole Foods. They each have a distinct vibe about them. It’s hard to put your finger on it but you feel it when you engage with them.
It’s the same for your favourite local restaurant, farmer’s market or massage studio. The best ones have a distinct vibe to them. You couldn’t point to any one thing they do or say, or any particular piece of decor but it all adds up you to feeling really good when you do business with them.
Of course, this is also true of the businesses you don’t like. Bad vibe has killed many a business. I know one new age shop in Edmonton who, whenever I bring up businesses with bad vibes in town, is the first one that people mention. People go in, feel the bad vibes, and then leave. They tend not to come back.
Vibe hits us at such a visceral level.
Vibe is trustworthy.
Vibe is a reliable touchstone. Vibe is a cornerstone of which your marketing can be built.
For years, I have travelled around leading my Marketing for Hippies 101 workshop and I the first exercise I would do was a truncated version of what you’re reading now in this workbook.
I would start by stating the obvious: marketing does not feel good.
It doesn’t feel good to the person doing it. It doesn’t feel good to the person on the receiving end.
Heads would nod.
I would then invite people to make a list of the words they would never want to hear someone say about their marketing.
“Imagine,” I would say. “That you’re at a party and you overhear a conversation. They’re talking about the way you market your work. And it’s not good. You hear them say, “Oh, their marketing is so…” and the words they use are so heartbreaking to you that you have to leave the party.
What words do they use?
I would ask people to take three minutes to make these lists and then invite them to share with the front of the room.
It wasn’t pretty: manipulative, hype, aggressive, pushy, slimy, gross, desperate, needy, boring, dishonest, embarrassing, insincere, inauthentic, posturing, fake etc.
After we’d absorbed that, I would point out, “No wonder we hate marketing. No wonder we don’t want to do it. We’re terrified of being labeled with any of those words.”
Again, the heads would nod.
Most of their attempts to market in a more conscious way were driven by this fear.
And yet, they’d never sat down and spelled out their deepest fears of how they might be seen. It had remained a nebulous phantasm that haunted their best attempts at marketing, constantly whispering to them, “You’re so _____” and filling in the blank with their worst fears.
This is what seems to drive most of the marketing I see in lives of my clients.
And fear is a terrible basis for a marketing strategy because it keeps us so focused on what we don’t want instead of what we do. When we focus on what we fear, somehow, we seem to attract or create more of it. This seems to be how it is.
So, the shift I want to invite is one from being fearful in our marketing to careful. Let’s not be fearful (full of fear). Let’s be careful (full of care). Let’s not focus on how we don’t want our marketing to feel, let’s focus on how we do want it to feel and how we do want it to be.
But that starts with us being clear that we want it to feel good and then honing what exactly that vibe is for us.
Some entrepreneurs I know have a very sweet, gentle, and warm vibe. Some have a badass, edgy, “I don’t give a fuck” vibe. Everyone’s vibe is different. Again, I’ve asked these questions you’re about to read dozens of times in workshops and had people share their responses. No one ever had quite the same vibe.
What if you honed in on the particular vibe you wanted your business to embody and ruthlessly made your business and marketing decisions based on that?
It’s such a simple idea but it’s so big.
If a marketing coach suggests you do something and the vibe is wrong? You don’t do it. If a marketing coach suggests you don’t do something but the vibe feels totally right? Maybe you do. If you’re about to send out an email, publish a sales letter, or design a workshop, you might pause to wonder, “Could this embody the vibe I’m wanting even more?”
I’m not suggesting throwing out strategy. I’m not suggesting throwing out logic. But I am suggesting adding this — vibe — as another filter or litmus test to each piece of marketing you do.
That’s what we’re here to figure out.
If you do, you might find that focusing on your particular vibe brings life back into your business and makes your business feel better everyday. And if you business feels better, then you’ll focus on it more. You’ll be more proud of it. You’ll even feel more excited when talking about it.
Too simple? Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
In this 29 page workbook, you’ll find:
- a seven-step process to clearly identify and articulate the vibe you’re wanting your business to embody with a level of clarity I predict you’ve never even considered possible (including seven places you can weave it into your online presence)
- three bonus exercises you can do to take the work deeper
- a helpful list of hundreds of possible words and phrases you could use to describe your business
This workbook could be for you if:
- you’ve ever felt bullied by a marketing coach to do something that didn’t feel good
- if you feel weird, awkward and uneasy about marketing
- you know you don’t want marketing to feel bad but have never pondered about the particular flavour of goodness you’d like your marketing to have
- you love the idea of spending a lazy afternoon working on a touchstone piece of your marketing that you’ll be coming back to for years to come.
This workbook might not be for you if:
- marketing already feels really good to you
- you feel a crystal clear sense of direction about the vibe you want your business to have
Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
P.S. This whole process should only take about five hours. I’ve designed it to be something you could start after lunch one day and have done by dinner.